Monday, June 29, 2009

"Dark" or "Black" and Closet Racism in the Magical Community

I have to boggle at people that get angry when you point out that calling (African-American) spiritual work with a sharper intent as "dark or black" has racist implications that some may find hurtful and caution to the side of being considerate or attentive or mindful. They predictably attack the messenger on every occasion where this comes up and flip the issue around as the messenger being "rude" and completely project and deflect the entire issue off of themselves and their own words and the effects thereof. Folks who decry being "PC" in these contexts come across to me as wanting to justify lack of politeness or cover up their own unexamined racist attitudes and reactions. Closet racism is never pretty. "It's no big deal everyone says it." Not true at all! I do not and know many magical people who consciously avoid this terminology out of respect for where our work comes from and where we come from.

Darkness has many positive qualities, just as "Light" has many negative ones. The Earth our Mother is dark when she is fertile, darkness allows us to rest and recuperate, things about to be born grow in the dark, darkness extends our vision so we can see the furthest reaches of God's starry firmament and allows the brightness of the Moon and Venus to shine forth in all their beauty, please readers do not fall into that trap of equating darkness with destruction or evil intent, is it dark to focus a mirror and start a fire with a sunbeam? Is an erupting volcano dark? A lightning bolt?

I hope my readers check how their words sound especially when talking about a culture that has been oppressed for centuries over being "dark". Words have power and are the direct vehicle of our intent and our magic and our relationships between each other.


Mike Rock said...

I just found a comment to a story about African American hair posted by an African American man the kind of bears on this topic a bit:

"First of all, we should really stop calling them "DREADS", that is such a negative word. We should never refer to ourselves in any negative way. I think that LOCKS are always beautiful, at any age!"

Jason Miller, said...

If you are saying that people calling african based magick "black magic" is racist I totally agree. There is a knee jerk response against anything african as evil. I cant tell you how many people write me for protection magick claiming to be cursed "by a santero or voodoo guy". In some cases they dont even have anyone in mind, they just assume that those are the only people who would do that kind of work. Meanwhile most Santera's that I have known are some of the kindest most timid workers...

However, if you are in general saying the the term black or dark magick used refering to wrathful, harmful, or overly passionate magic is racist I disagree.

While dark does indeed have many profoundly positive qualities (you can only see the stars in the dark) it is traditional in many cultures that never had significant exposure with Africans. In Tibet for instance there are lots of Bumnags or black collections that focus on wrathful magic.

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